Dueling free kicks split the points in Toronto
May 1, 2008
For the first time all year, we were treated to 90 minutes of the Juan Pablo Angel - Jozy Altidore pairing, but the A-A Connection could do nothing tonight. The former did not seem 100% recovered, the latter often seemed lost on the wing. Former Metro draft pick Marco Velez opened the scoring for Toronto, but Dave van den Bergh responded, as two first-half free kicks accounted for all the scoring in a 1:1 draw.
It's a road game, which means Juan Carlos Osorio switches to four at the back: van den Bergh, Kevin Goldthwaite, Jeff Parke, and Hunter Freeman, the latter making his season debut. The new wrinkle to the lineup was a five-man midfield with Danleigh Borman and Altidore on the wings; Seth Stammler was in his now-usual defensive midfield, with Claudio Reyna in the center and Mike Magee, making his first start in almost two years, in Reyna's previous attacking midfield role. Angel, back from injury, was the lone striker.
The first twenty minutes of the match saw four corner kicks for Metro, and complete domination on the field. But in the 22nd, a phantom foul on Freeman was called by our favorite referee, Abbey Oklulaja, just outside the box. Metro defense fell asleep, as Toronto's Laurent Robert found an unmarked Velez, who easily headed it in past Jon Conway.
Metro would tie the game in the 39th minute, as a hand ball was called just outside the Toronto penalty area. Van den Bergh's low bouncing free kick went around the left side of the wall and into the left bottom corner of the Toronto net.
Reyna left the game at halftime with the lower left leg injury, replaced by Sinisa Ubiparipovic. But the most welcome substitute was Dane Richards, making his first Metro appearance of the year in the 55th minute. With the Jamaican in the game, he assumed his usual right wing slot, Altidore moved to the left, and suddenly the Metro offense felt much more fluid. The duo almost connected on the team's best chance of the second half, as Richards barely missed a Jozy goal-mouth cross.
Former Metro great Amado Guevara had a chance to win it for Toronto in injury time, but his one-timer blast from outside the box went just over the crossbar.
Lineup: Conway, van den Bergh, Goldthwaite, Parke, Freeman, Stammler, Reyna, Magee, Borman, Altidore, Angel. Subs: Ubiparipovic, Richards, Wolyniec.